by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.
Just minutes after news broke that the New York attorney general is launching a probe into all eight Catholic dioceses of the state, New Jersey is also announcing its own investigation into clerical sex abuse.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Thursday afternoon he’s putting together a task force to gather evidence on priestly sex abuse and cover-up in the Church, with the aim of possibly presenting the evidence to a state grand jury with the authority to subpoena documents and call witnesses.
“I was deeply troubled to read the allegations contained in last month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report,” Grewal said in his announcement. “The report revealed that sexual assaults on children — and efforts to cover up such assaults — were far more widespread in Pennsylvania than we ever thought possible.”
The task force, made up of prosecutors and detectives, will be headed by Robert Laurino, former acting prosecutor for Essex County. Laurino comes with considerable experience investigating sex crimes, having completed more than 100 jury trials and thousands of sex abuse cases.
“I am extremely honored that the attorney general would ask me to take on such an extraordinarily important investigation,” said Laurino at the press conference. “Having been a special victims prosecutor for most of my professional career, I am prepared to do everything possible to give a voice to those who were abused. I hope that we will finally be able to give these individuals some degree of closure in their lives.”
New Jersey is now the fifth state to declare a sex abuse probe into the Catholic Church, preceded by New York, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri.